Photo Manipulation

Create a Troublesome Underwater Scene with a Big Green Monster in Photoshop

In this tutorial we will create an underwater scene with various elements and an overall mysterious atmosphere. We’ll use most of the Photoshop power tools: layers masks, adjustment layers, Smart Objects and more. It helps if you’re an intermediate user but beginners will also be able to follow this tut and learn about various precious techniques. Let’s begin!

This is a classic underwater-above water Photoshop manipulation with a monsters lurking in the mysterious depths while unaware characters swim above. One personal touch is the scene’s deep green hue – it further increases the poisonous-strange underwater monster looks. You will need Photoshop CS3 or newer to follow this tutorial.

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new document (Ctrl +N) 1500×1823 pixels. Save this file somewhere on your computer (Ctrl + S).

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Step 2

Open the file “Underwater” in Photoshop. Select all (Ctrl + A) and copy (Ctrl + C). Go back to our newly created document and paste (Ctrl +V). Convert the pasted layer into a smart object (smart objects allow us to resize and modify layers without any permanent loss of information) by right-clicking the layer and choosing “Convert To Smart Object” from the drop down menu. Convert all the layers you paste in this document from other sources into smart objects – it is good practice.

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Step 3

Press Ctrl + T to enter Free Transform and position the underwater layer as shown below. You can hold Shift while dragging the handles of Free Transform to resize the layer proportionally.

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Step 4

Create a new Curves Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves) and use the settings shown below to make our scene dark and mysterious.

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Step 5

Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Overlay. Select the standard round soft brush and lower the size to 3px. Set the Opacity to 10% and paint some squiggly lines where the surface of the water meets the underwater. If the effect is not enough create another layer and set the blending mode to Color Dodge – paint the same squiggly lines.

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Step 6

Open the file “Moon”. Use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to select the moon. Press Q to enter Quick Mask mode and paint with black over the lower part of the moon to deselect it. Press Q again and copy the selection (Ctrl +C). Paste the moon in our scene and place it as shown below. Change the blending mode to Linear Dodge and lower the Fill to 33%.

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Step 7

Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and fill it with black (Shift + F5). Add some Gaussian noise (Filter > Noise > Add Noise).

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Step 8

Add some 2px of Gaussian blur to the noise layer.

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Step 9

Apply a curves adjustment to the noise layer and use the settings shown below to create a dark background with specks of white.

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Step 10

Change the blending mode of the noise layer to Color Dodge and lower the Opacity to 52%. As you can see only the specks of light are visible now (the dark color has disappeared thanks to the magic of the blending modes)

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Step 11

Add a layer mask to the noise layer (Layer > New Layer Mask > Reveal All). Select the standard round soft brush and paint with black in the layer mask on the lower regions of our scene to hide them. As you (should) know in a layer mask black hides everything while white reveals. Name this layer “Stars”.

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